Acadia National Park: Trail Inventory

This week at the Olmsted Center we had the opportunity to go to Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine, and assist with updating the parks trails. The last time the trails in Acadia National Park had been updated was roughly five years ago.

In updating their trail system inventory, the park is able to locate features on the trail easier and if repairs need to be made they can reference the inventory to locate the area quicker. What our work included was detailing all the existing features of the trail, and if any had changed or were no longer there we noted it and took a picture of it. More importantly, we added new features that had appeared on the trail. They varied from naturally occurring features like water drainage to man-made features such as stone steps. We noted each feature of each assigned trail to help the rangers locate any feature that may need maintenance in the future.

While in Acadia National Park, we also got to speak with the Superintendent of the park, Kevin Schneider! We had the opportunity of having a somewhat informal discussion on how the National Park Service works and how they deal with uprising issues. One major issue we discussed was parking. As the number of visitors increases at the park, so does the amount of vehicles circulating the park as well as the need for parking. We discussed how the issue of parking could be dealt with long term so that visitors can experience the park without it losing its integrity. He also discussed the intricate relationship with investors and donors. People who invest in the parks get a lot of say in how that money is best used, which does not always coincide with what the park wants to do, and how it is a balance between the two. The bureaucracy behind the park and management seems to apply at almost every level. We also were able to talk with the Cultural Resource Manager of the park, Gale. She described how applying the funding necessary can get complicated daily. Many of the features in the park that may need maintenance may not be considered cultural resources to some. Much of her job comes to making the argument that they are in fact cultural resources, so that funding for the maintenance can be applied.

During the week we also had the opportunity of visiting the Landscape Architecture firm, LARK, which works on commercial and residential designs in the Bar Harbor area as well as in Boston. I have visited firms in the past, but this firm was unique in that it has only three employees! Being able to talk to the principle from the firm on how they made it work, as well as some of the challenges we see in the both the private sector as well as in education, was extremely insightful.

My entire life I had always pictured myself in the Midwest. This internship has opened up opportunities as well as shown me what other amazing places there are. Over this past week I had the chance to meet great park employees, visit beautiful gardens, and look at amazing landscapes that are absolutely breathtaking. Visiting Acadia National Park was an absolutely amazing experience, and with this being only my second week I look forward to what the rest of this internship allows me to see!

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